By Dr. Nadine Coudret

Dean Emerita and Professor Emerita of Nursing

College of Nursing and Health Professions

University of Southern Indiana

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Among the many joys that come with retirement are the choices of how and where to live after retirement. The where we want to live is an important part of retirement planning.  

A 2013 Del Webb survey conducted by Russell Research in April, 2013, asked Baby Boomers between the ages of 50-60 years about their retirement plans. Forty-one percent of responders indicated that they were likely or very likely to move after retirement while twenty nine percent reported that they were still undecided about moving after retirement.

If you are retired or planning retirement, which of the “where to live” options listed below would you choose?

1. Stay in your current home.

2. Downsize but continue to live in the same community. (smaller home or condo)

3. Relocate to a new community where children and grandchildren live.

4. Relocate to a new community that promises better weather and lots of fun activities.

5. Become a “snowbird” and enjoy the winter months in the sun but return to your home community where family and friends live.

Choices about where to live are impacted by family, finances, health, and individual interests. While location choices vary, a consistent theme for many retirees is downsizing. Proceeds from the sale of a larger home can augment retirement monies. Decreased house and yard maintenance time, as well as tax and insurance expenses, also make this an attractive consideration. A yet added advantage in moving is that many newer homes have been built with retirees in mind and include wider halls, less steps, door levers, and similar elder-friendly accommodations.

Moving to a downsized home or condo in the same community allows the longtime circle of family, friends, and church affiliations to be maintained. Part-time work and volunteer activities are more easily accessed. Travel can provide adventure and new experiences without the major changes that come with relocation.

If relocation is the choice, the two most common incentives are the desire to be closer to children or to live in a location that will support the dream of the “good life.” While moving to be close to children and grandchildren is appealing, it means leaving longtime friends and familiar surroundings. The younger family members may themselves move, leaving the retiree in a community with less family and social support than before they moved. However, for some retirees, the joy of time with children and grandchildren makes this a good choice.

If family proximity is not the primary driver in choosing a retirement location, there are a number of resources available to help select a new location. AARP and other organizations publish lists of the best retirement communities. Factors included in these rankings are: cultural and education opportunities; climate and proximity to mountains, lakes, and oceans; walking, bicycling, golfing interests; friendliness of people; quality healthcare; and cost of living. Retirees moving to a new location enjoy the opportunity to meet new people and explore new interests with others of like mind. Family and friend visits maintain a connection to pre-retirement life.

Another retirement living option, if economically affordable, is to maintain a home in the community but to spend winter months in a more weather-friendly location. Individuals selecting this option travel to locations in states such as Florida, Texas, and Arizona to escape the cold and ice of winter. “Snowbirds,” as they are known, enjoy the sun and availability of outdoor activities during the winter months. The 55+ living communities in these areas offer a range of living arrangements and provide an opportunity to meet new friends, stay active, and explore new interests.

The question of where to live after retirement is an important one. Retirement is meant to be a time of relaxation, adventure, happiness, and a reward for many years of hard work. Where you live will influence and greatly impact your achievement of the good life that can come with retirement. Choose wisely!

Dr. Nadine Coudret is founding dean of the College of Nursing and Health Professions at the University of Southern Indiana. Under her leadership, the USI the Center for Healthy Aging and Wellness and the Mid-America Institute on Aging were established to provide education and service to improve the lives of older adults. Dr. Coudret retired from USI in June, 2012. She downsized and lives in Evansville the majority of her time, but enjoys the Florida sun and warmth in the winter months.